Over the past several months, I have served as an Influence Leader for ASCD. This program helps to sharpen the skills of both new and veteran education advocates. The actions I have taken as a member of this program have allowed me to gain knowledge in education policy and build confidence in my advocacy. During these months of ‘basic training’, I have compiled three easy steps to follow that any educator can use to start speaking up.
Find your passion
What are you passionate about in education? What do you think needs more attention and support?
Every educator views the field through a different lens. Understand what your lens is and how you can make a difference. When you have determined your topic, start to research the current policies surrounding it. Begin to understand how you think changes to current policy and funding can benefit students, schools, and your profession. A strong understanding will allow you to advocate more effectively.
You have found your topic…. Now what?
Reach out to your PLN –
Regardless of how supportive your division might be of your advocacy efforts, you can always count on your PLN. Your PLN can range from colleagues in your building to advocates across the globe. Here are two simple ways to reach out to your PLN.
- With the permission of your administration, hold a meeting with your building colleagues to share your advocacy journey, including success and challenges. Talk about ways to advocate and how teachers can impact current practice. This support group can start to formalize ideas that can be put into practice.
- Participate in a Twitter chat entitled #EdAdvBecause. You can make valuable connections and add to your PLN within this group. These seasoned advocates will provide great insight to your advocacy efforts!
Your network of advocates is starting to take shape…. Now it is time to develop a plan.
Set advocacy goals (with a non-negotiable) –
It is important to ask yourself how advocacy relates to you. As you are beginning to formalize your approach towards advocacy, it is important to set goals and specific actions you would like to accomplish.
What will your advocacy look like in a week? A month? A year?
Identify specific actions that you would like to complete and stick to your plan. This practice ensures that you keep advocacy as a priority during the year.
How does advocacy relate to you in your daily practice? For me, I am still trying to find my path. I am still in step one of my advocacy starter kit. I am trying to narrow my focus on what topic means the most to me. I am not sure when I will be done with step one but I am committed to becoming a more active and effective advocate. Our students deserve this much.
Adam Brown is a K–12 principal in Virginia. He is a 2016 ASCD Emerging Leader, an ASCD Influence Leader, and member of the Educational Leadership Reading Advisory Board. Brown is also a 2014 AERA Emerging Scholar. Connect with him on Twitter @AdamBrownEDU or his on blog at https://medium.com/@AdamBrownEDU.